By Tordue Salem
In his seminal book, “The meaning of History”, former Secretary of State of the United States, Dr Henry Kissinger, defines statesmanship as “the science of the interest of states”, he goes further to eulogize the statesman as “a philosopher who understands the laws of the physical world”, and must eschew divisiveness at all times.
In his essay, on nationhood, French philosopher and linguist, Ernest Renan dwells on the rigours and sacrifices a multi-ethnic and multilingual country underwent, in order to forge a nation.
Between 1967-70, a bitter war was fought to keep Nigeria one: scores of lives and a river of blood was left in the wake of the violence. Warring parties struck an armistice, and promises of nationhood were not only made, efforts followed in form of decrees establishing the National Youth Service Corps and the National Orientation Agency, to serve as buffers for unity.
But divisive comments from veterans of this war and their comrades, have continued to drag the country to the edge. These otherwise weighty, but divisive voices, are unrelenting and immersed in the politics of ethnic and personal interests, making genuine efforts to address our troubles, almost impossible.
Even the clergy across religions, have thrown their hats into the incendiary ring, forcing the discourse on security to be tinged by tribal interests.
Since 2012, scores have been killed in Benue, Delta, Enugu, Zamfara, Taraba, Katsina, Kano and several other places in Nigeria. But the recent killing of Mrs. Funke Olakunri, the daughter of a Yoruba interest group, Afenifere, appears to anger its commentariat led by Olusegun Obasanjo and Wole Soyinka the most.
A former Vice Presidential candidate and Pastor of Latter Rain Assembly in Lagos, Tunde Bakare, in response to the depth of Mrs. Olakunri, declared that “Nigeria’s Cup is Full”, meaning that the geographical entity called Nigeria is ripe for partitioning.
Many groups have since joined the fray, to declare their interest for a balkanized country, on the alleged account that the president’s kinsmen(Fulani) are responsible for the killing. The Police however, in its preliminary investigation, says it was the handiwork of kidnappers, who may have shot at the Late Mrs Olakunri’s vehicle to scare the driver and abduct the commuters.
Divisive commentaries from people who should take up Kissinger’s challenge of statesmanship, given their tutelage in statecraft over the years, has continued unabated, leading to President Buhari’s intervention yesterday.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Alhaji Garba Shehu, the president warned the polarizing bandwagon against politicizing or ethnicizing the insecurity situation in the country.
On Tuesday, the House passed a motion titled “Urgent Need to Investigate the killing of Mrs. Okufunke Olakunrin along Benin-Ore Road”, sponsored by Hon. Omolafe Adedayo representing Akure North/South Federal Constituency of Ondo State and 9 other lawmakers.
Presenting the motion, Adedayo said that the brutal murder of Olakunrin by gunmen was an indication that the security architecture of the country needed overhauling.
“The House notes with dismay the reported brutal killing of Mrs Olufunke Olakunrin aged 58 years, the daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the leader of Yoruba Social Political group, Afenifere on Friday, July 12, 2019 along Ore Road, the headquarters of Odigbo Local Government of Ondo State.
“Further notes that Mrs Olakunrin and others were heading to Lagos from Akure in the morning when gunmen suspected to be herdsmen attacked her vehicle, shooting sporadically at them even the driver had to quickly turn back to escape from the hoodlums but unknown to him that there were some of them (gun men) in the bush by the other side of the road.
“Observers that there were five people inside the vehicle when the gunmen struck but sadly, she was hit by a bullet and when rushed to the hospital, she died minutes after, although, others who were wounded were also rushed to the hospital and have since been discharged.
“Aware that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government as enshrined in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and that we the people of Nigeria cannot continue to fold our arms and watch the perpetrators of the evil acts keep shedding the blood of the innocent people across the land
“Concerned about the security architecture of the country which is in need of urgent restructuring in other to effectively tackle the rising causes of banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery and cattle rustling ravaging the country”.
The misleading, but growing narrative in mostly Southern quarters that the Fulani tribe is the face of insecurity in the country, may be a product of mental laziness.
Granted that there are pockets of skirmishes and insecurity in the country, wrought by certain tribes, ethnicization of issues will always lead away from a forensic determination of the root cause of instability in the country.